Sometimes, I find it exciting that I share no biology with my son. This is mostly true when he picks up poop off the floor or slaps himself in the face for no reason and then laughs. At those moments, I am deeply appreciative of the fact that my genes did not cause his zany behavior. When he is particularly loving or funny, I know he got that from me. Osmosis. Nose picking? Genes. Screaming fits? Genes. Kindness towards animals and random kisses? Osmosis. I feel the same way about our dog. When he growls or won’t pee, he belongs to my partner. When he is playful and freshly bathed, he is mine.
The difference is that my boy is mine all the time. I am his primary parent Monday-Friday. His other mother (S) started back to work full time at the beginning of July. Since then, M and I have been figuring it all out together. We were a threesome for the last year. S and I took the year off of work-life to hang out with M. We moved in with my parents (yes…we did) and spent much of our time taking walks in the woods, making animals sounds and getting to know each other more and more each day. In all that privilege, we kind of forgot that it would ever be different. That was, until our bank account started to run dry and one of us had to get a job. Since I am not super career motivated, S searched in earnest until she found something she would love. The threesome morphed into a twosome. When S did return to full time work, there were some serious challenges for M and for me. Sometimes, at naptime, he would arch his back away from me and cry for S. There were a couple days where I, after an hour of trying to get him to sleep, would sit on the floor in a heap crying at my lack of ability to soothe him. Despite all my best efforts, sometimes she is what he wants. What I have come to understand is that it is ok if he sometimes wants only her. There are times when he wants only me. And that is also ok. This parenting thing is an evolution, isn’t it? Day to day and minute by minute, discovering who this little person is and how to respond to what he needs.
(This might seem like a leap, but hang in there.) Deciding to keep this blog was a bit like deciding to stand naked in front of town hall. It feels good, but you never know how passersby might react. It has been interesting to hear from different readers. Often, people want to fix it or make it better by telling Charlotte and myself that we are good parents and our children need us just as much as their gestational mothers. We didn’t necessarily anticipate this type of response. Both Charlotte and I are very secure in our roles with our children, so it didn’t even cross our minds that other people might think that we are hurt or damaged and need to be taken care of. Don’t get me wrong, the outpouring of care is heartwarming (plus, it lets us know people are actually reading our blog!) It is just different from what we expected. But I think that is how parenting is too: Constantly changing and different than you expect. A few months ago, while sitting back and observing my boy, who is very much his own person, I let go of all of my expectations of what this journey will look like. I let go of expectations and breathed in not knowing. So much of the day-to-day depends on whom your child turns out to be each and every day and each and every minute. Some days M loves sweet potatoes, but tonight, he wouldn’t touch them. And so it goes. The ebb and flow of this thing called life.